Well, following confirmation of the most powerful production four-cylinder engine in the world, now Mercedes-AMG has revealed the car(s) to go around it: you're looking at the all-new Mercedes-AMG A 45 and its four-door coupe sibling, the CLA 45.
With the A 35 and all its 306hp derivatives already loitering in Mercedes-AMG's compact cars portfolio, the German powerhouse had to pull out all the stops for the A 45 and CLA 45. Although... we'd say it'll take a bit of an AMG anorak to spot the main differences. In terms of the rear spoiler perched on the boot, the front lower airdam and the beefy side sills, the A 35 and A 45 are hard to tell apart. What marks out the more powerful variants are a pair of power strakes on the bonnet, as well as AMG's Panamericana grille, which features 12 vertical slats, whereas the A 35 has twin horizontal louvres up front. The eagle-eyed among you might also have noticed that the newcomers have flared front wheel arches, something the 35 family does not. An easier spot is round the back: the full-fat AMG has quad exhausts, the A 35 has just a pair of spaced circular tailpipes. There's even a difference here between the non-S and S models of the new A/CLA 45 models, as the more powerful versions have 90mm-diameter exhaust tips with internal fluting and external lettering, as opposed to the regular models' 82mm items.
The ambience of performance
Like the 35 models, the 45 quartet enjoy the current A-Class/CLA-Class cabin, complete with the full MBUX infotainment system, only the interior has a sportier air. This is mainly because of a combination of Artico man-made leather and Dinamica microfibre with red topstitching, red Designo seatbelts and a red border for the upper dashboard; however, all this red is replaced with yellow in the higher S variants, while an AMG Performance steering wheel in Nappa leather and Dinamica - plus a 12 o'clock marking - is included. Various AMG-specific displays can be called up on the MBUX system, with things like a G-Meter and Race-Timer part of the package.
Two grades of bonkers speed
There are actually four '45s' being released here: the A 45 and CLA 45, and then the A45 S and CLA 45 S. All of them use a new 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine, which is more powerful than the preceding A/CLA 45 models, even in its lower specification. Here, it delivers 387hp and 480Nm, which - driving all four wheels through 4Matic+ all-wheel drive and a new eight-speed AMG Speedshift dual-clutch automatic - will see the A 45 hit 100km/h from rest in 4.0 seconds flat, while the CLA 45 is just a tenth behind at 4.1 seconds. But the A 45 S and CLA 45 S deploy the 421hp/500Nm iteration of the same powerplant, trimming their respective 0-100km/h times by a tenth of a second... yes, that means the A 45 hot hatch will run the benchmark sprint in less than four seconds, knocking in a ridiculous 3.9-second time. The 387hp 45s are limited to 250km/h, with an option to lift that to 270km/h with the AMG Driver's Package, while the 45 S twins are pegged to 270km/h as standard.
Serious chassis hardware
Beyond the engine, gearbox and 4Matic+, AMG Torque Control can split the engine output to all the wheels to such a degree that there's a Drift Mode for the higher-powered duo. Elsewhere, the standard 45s wear 18-inch alloys, the S versions 19s, and those 421hp models also get larger, red-painted six-piston callipers for their uprated brakes; the regular 45s aren't short of stopping power, though, with four-piston front callipers in grey. All models get four-link rear suspension and three-stage AMG Ride Control adjustable dampers, as well as electro-mechanical sports-tuned power steering, an AMG Exhaust system complete with sound flap and at least five drive modes - once again, the S hierarchy sees the 421hp A/CLA AMGs gaining an extra sixth mode, titled 'Race' as standard, although you can fit this to the 387hp cars in the optional AMG Dynamic Plus package.
A word from the boss
Tobias Moers, the chairman of Mercedes-AMG, said: "We have completely redesigned our '45' models - from the engine and transmission through the chassis, the elaborately constructed drivetrain to the body structure and of course the design itself - all with one goal: to raise vehicle dynamics and the sporty driving experience to a level previously unimaginable in the compact class. With the presentation of this, our most powerful and most dynamic compact sports car, we are also reinforcing the significance of this segment for our growth strategy."